Are you aware that Major League Baseball teams set their own home game times? Not in the playoffs, but in the regular season they do. I mention this because the Red Sox and Tigers could well end up competing for the same wild-card spot. So if I'm Detroit, I'm not going to help Boston in any way. I mention this because the Red Sox requested the Tigers to move Thursday's series opener between the two at Comerica Park from a 1:10 p.m. ET start to a night game because Boston is playing Wednesday night in Baltimore and then obviously would have to travel. The Tigers said nope. Now, some in Beantown think the Tigers are just sticking it to former GM Dave Dombrowski, now in charge in Boston. But Tigers GM Al Avila, who formerly was under Dombrowski, said it was a business move and indeed the Tigers have had multiple matinee home games on Thursday this season. Plus the Lions play a preseason game right next door at Ford Field on Thursday night. And, hey, if it's a competitive advantage for Detroit on Thursday against Boston because the Tigers are at home the night before, then that's an added bonus.
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Red Sox at Tigers (+100, 9.5)
This game should have live betting as it's televised nationally by the MLB Network. Boston needs a starter again with Steven Wright on the disabled list, so it unfortunately has no choice but to turn to struggling Clay Buchholz (4-9, 5.66). He had been demoted to the bullpen but was put back in the rotation on Saturday vs. Arizona and allowed three runs over 4.1 innings with three walks. He came out for the fifth inning and allowed a single and a fly out before getting pulled as he crossed the 70-pitch threshold. He hadn't started since getting lit up by the Angels on July 2. Buchholz has pitched three innings of relief this year vs. Detroit and allowed a run and two hits. Ian Kinsler is 2-for-6 career off him with two solo homers. Justin Upton is 2-for-6 with two doubles and four RBIs. Detroit goes with lefty Matt Boyd. Since being called back up from the minors in early June, he has been excellent (4-2, 4.16). He pitched seven shutout innings in winning at Texas last time out, allowing two hits. He hasn't faced Boston in 2016.
Key trends: The Red Sox are 5-1 in their past six against a lefty. The Tigers are 5-0 in Boyd's past five at home vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" is 5-2-1 in Boyd's past eight at home.
Early lean: Tigers and under.
Brewers at Cubs (-300, TBA)
Your only other matinee with a 2:20 p.m. ET start. I'm thinking a couple of key Cubs will get the game off because the team heads out on a tough nine-game West Coast trip right after the game. Plus the Cubs had to play a doubleheader on Tuesday. The Brewers go with Zach Davies (9-5, 3.80). He lost to Cincinnati on Saturday, giving up five runs and eight hits over five innings. He might be hitting a bit of an innings wall. Davies beat the Cubs on July 23 in Beer Town, allowing a run and three hits over 6.1 innings. Dexter Fowler is 0-for-6 against him. Anthony Rizzo is 1-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts. Chicago's Jake Arrieta (14-5, 2.55) is back in the Cy Young race. He had a third straight good start Friday vs. St. Louis, allowing a run over 5.2 innings. He was at a high pitch count so came out. Arrieta beat Milwaukee on April 28 in allowing a run in five innings. Ryan Braun is 4-for-12 off him career with a homer and four RBIs, but I have a feeling that Braun will miss this game and perhaps head to the DL after suffering a left knee strain on Tuesday.
Key trends: The Brewers are 5-2 in Davies' past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Cubs are 6-0 in Arrieta's past six on Thursday. The under is 5-2 in his past five at home vs. Milwaukee.
Early lean: Cubs.
White Sox at Indians (-178, 8.5)
This also is shown by the MLB Network. Cleveland is set to get All-Star Danny Salazar off the disabled list for this one. Salazar (11-4, 3.38) lasted just two innings on Aug. 1 vs. the Twins and allowed six runs, including three homers, and had an MRI on his elbow the next day. That found nothing serious. The right-hander has an 8.84 ERA over his past four starts, totaling only 18⅓ innings. He is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA this year in two starts vs. the Pale Hose. Jose Abreu is 6-for-16 career off him with three homers. The White Sox go with lefty Carlos Rodon (3-8, 4.32). He is working on back-to-back quality starts, both Chicago wins. He did throw a career-high 122 pitches last time out vs. the Marlins, though. Rodon took a no-decision on June 19 in Cleveland, allowing two runs over six innings with seven strikeouts. Jason Kipnis is just 3-for-17 off him. Carlos Santana is 4-for-11 with a double.
Key trends: The Sox are 1-6 in Rodon's past seven on the road. The Tribe are 11-3 in Salazar's past 14 at home. They are 4-1 in his past five vs. Chicago. The under is 5-1 in Salazar's past six on Thursday.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Marlins at Reds (+153, 7.5)
Miami skipped ace Jose Fernandez' s start on Sunday (don't even get me started about that again), but he will actually now move up a day earlier than scheduled to take the spot of Adam Conley, who landed on the DL over the weekend. Fernandez (12-6, 2.81) allowed a run and six hits over six innings with 10 strikeouts on Aug. 8 vs. the Giants, but the Marlins have dropped his past three. Fernandez beat the Reds on July 8 in allowing an unearned run with eight strikeouts over seven innings. Brandon Phillips is 3-for-10 off him with a homer. Joey Votto is 1-for-10 with four strikeouts. Cincinnati has won six starts in a row by Dan Straily (8-6, 3.75). His last loss was opposite Fernandez in Miami, giving up three runs and six hits over six innings. Christian Yelich is 2-for-2 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Marlins are 4-1 in Fernandez's past five with nine or more days of rest. The Reds are 5-1 in Straily's past six at home. The under is 4-1 in Fernandez's past five vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Marlins and under.
Mets at Giants (-145, 6.5)
Probably the pitching matchup of the week in this series opener. It's former NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom for the Mets. DeGrom (7-5, 2.30) is working on a string of four straight excellent outings but has just one win in that stretch to show for it thanks to a lousy Mets offense. He took a no-decision on Saturday vs. the Padres, giving up a run and three hits over seven innings. DeGrom, who beat the Giants back on April 30 (no earned runs over six innings), has a 1.56 ERA since the All-Star break. The Giants go with lefty and former World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner (11-7, 2.11). He also had been getting little offensive help of late and hadn't won since July 10 but did on Saturday vs. the Orioles, throwing seven shutout innings. He beat the Mets on May 1, shutting them out over six innings. Neil Walker is 4-for-12 career off him with two homers.
Key trends: The Mets are 8-3 in deGrom's past 11 road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Giants are 8-3 in Bumgarner's past 11 at home. The under is 6-2 in his past eight there.
Early lean: Giants and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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